Speckled trout should be practically begging to get into your ice chests this month — if you know where to focus your efforts.
Now, to be honest, anyone can put a boat in the water and bounce around long enough to collect enough fish for a nice dinner.
But what if you want to catch limits? Every time your boat leaves the marina?
Even with the coast disappearing faster than the first batch of mudbugs at a crawfish boil, there are so many options along the Louisiana coast that choosing wisely can be a daunting task.
So we turned to the experts — the fishing guides who have to find trout day in, day out for their clients — to put together a list of tried-and-true speckled trout producers.
So get you your map, crank up your GPS and get ready to load the boat.
Capt. Nick Poe didn’t hesitate when asked where to head on Calcasieu Lake for some quality speckled trout this month.
“The old jetties on the south end of Big Lake,” said Poe, with Big Lake Guide Service. “That’s a good spot to fish and just to have a vantage point because you can see the Washout, and you can see out in the middle of the lake north of the old jetties.
“And that’s usually where your birds are going to pick that time of year.”
Poe works both the north and south sides of the roughly mile-long stretch of rocks for quality trout in May.
“It’s going to be mainly good fish — most better than 2 pounds,” he said. “You’re typically not going to see many 14- and 15-inch fish.
“The south side has a lot of oysters. There’s some on the north side, but they’re more scattered there. The south side is pretty solid, especially down on the west end of it.”
Focus on where the tide is pushing water through breaks in the jetties, he said.
“Pretty much the whole thing is good. Anywhere you see current flowing through the rocks, that’s a spot you want to make sure you fish really well,” Poe said. “There are plenty of areas where the rocks are underwater for a long way — maybe a quarter-mile in some places — but just because they’re underwater doesn’t mean there’s no rocks there.
“It’s still worth fishing: Just stay in line and keep casting at it.”
Poe suggested throwing topwaters, swimbaits or jerkbaits against the rocks, but he also said to have a jig rigged up and ready in case birds show up.
His go-to soft-plastic twitchbait is the MirrOlure Lil John in opening night, golden bream or chartreuse ice on a 1/4-ounce jighead.
“A group of birds might pop up 40 yards from you. Sometimes you’ll see as shrimp jump and a fish will bust, and then all of a sudden you’ve got 50 birds picking 20 yards from your boat,” Poe said. “It happens there regularly.”
But he cautioned anglers unfamiliar with the area to make sure they go around the entire length of the jetty, rather than attempt to cross through the middle of it.
“If you’re on the south side and you see a group of birds picking on the north side, make sure to run all the way around the jetties or you’ll rip the transom out of your boat,” Poe said. “Don’t try to cut across. There’s a buoy on the west end and a single piece of PVC pipe on the east end; you’ve got to be looking for it, and you don’t want to miss it.”
May weather typically dictates two different plans of attack when targeting speckled trout out of Dularge, according to Capt. Marty LaCoste with Absolute Fishing Charters.
“It’s usually windy, so we typically fish on the inside during the first week of May,” LaCoste said. “But by the second week, we’re typically offshore, so I would say Coon Island (is the place to be).”
Roughly seven miles from the coast heading southeast out of Dularge, Coon Island is the western-most spot in the Last Island chain — and its jetties and beaches are usually teeming with speckled trout this month, he said.
“During the full moons in the summertime, the fish are spawning at the islands and on the beaches,” LaCoste said. “There’s going to be fish at the islands all summer long, but in May that’s definitely a hotspot.”
LaCoste fishes double-rigs with 1/4-ounce jigheads using Matrix Shad in avocado, green hornet and tiger bait, and Vortex Shad in purple haze.
He targets shallow troughs in the sandbars off the beach and works along the jetties.
“For the people who like to fish topwater baits, early morning at sunrise on calm days you can bust some big trout, too,” he said. “I like to be fishing at daybreak, myself.
“I’ve been out there and had 60 fish in the boat before I see another boat pull up. Some days we’re catching them in the dark before it even gets daylight.”
Picking just the right place near Grand Isle in May depends on when you head to the little barrier island.
If you go early, you want to head east to Four Bayous. But later in the month, the rocks facing Grand Isle State Park turn on.
Capt. Barry Schexnaydre of Fish-N-Tell Charters said Four Bayous offers everything trout need to thrive.
“The water is usually clean over there, and you’ve got bigger tides,” Schexnaydre explained.
And the camps and rocks in the area offer some structure around which the fish can gather.
“You’re fishing the downcurrent side (of the structure),” Schexnaydre said.
Croakers and shrimp dragged across the bottom with Carolina rigs are the way to go here, but be ready to rerig on a regular basis.
“You’ll get hung up a lot,” Schexnaydre said. “If you’re going to catch them, you’re going to lose some bait.”
But it’s worth it because you won’t be catching schoolies.
“They’re nice trout — 2 1/2 to 3 pounds,” Schexnaydre said.
Seeing shrimp boats working the front of Grand Isle is the signal that the rocks at the state park will be holding trout.
“If the shrimp boats aren’t out there, then there usually won’t be any shrimp,” Schexnaydre said.
The approach is pretty much the same — toss live, Carolina-rigged croakers or shrimp right up to the rocks and hold on.
Just be sure that there is some tidal movement on the rocks.
“It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s moving,” Schexnaydre said.
Iron Banks/Stone Island
Capt. Ryan Lambert said Buras is a great jumping-off point for trout anglers, with fish swarming on both sides of the Mississippi River.
The problem with the west side, however, is that there’s almost no remaining land.
“I could tell you where to go to catch fish over there, but nobody would find it,” the owner of Cajun Fishing Adventures chuckled.
So he pointed to the east to a piece of water that has been a bit of a community hole for years.
The Iron Banks, and the nearby Black Tank (if you can find it), attract gobs of anglers every spring for a reason — they fill with trout.
“Those places are going to be the first places those fish are going to show up,” Lambert said. “And you can fish both in no time.”
The key to both is the structure associated with the locations. Lambert said the twisted metal will eat baits (so load up), but it’s almost guaranteed that at some point during the day trout will turn on — and you want to be there when it happens.
Live shrimp or croakers won’t last long in these fish-filled waters, and Lambert said you can dangle them under corks or let them free line.
However, he usually will be found tight-lining artficials — namely Deadly Dudleys — because he has confidence in his ability to pick up plenty of trout.
“Anything with a shrimp color and chartreuse tail will work,” he said.
But he doesn’t just cast willy-nilly — instead he focuses his efforts very carefully.
“Look for the tide lines,” Lambert said. “Those fish will stay on those line.”
And he said it’s important to be flexible throughout the day.
“You have to watch the tide because the tide lines will change,” Lambert said. “You can be on those lines, and in an hour they’ll move.
“You can move with them and stay on the fish. Those fish just hang on those contour lines.”
And Capt. Gene Dugas with Rather Be Fishing Adventures said a short run away is Stone Island, which is a perfect target for those looking for loads of trout.
“It’s shallow, it’s got a lot of shells around it, and it’s always been a top producer,” Dugas said.
He said Hurricane Katrina hit it fairly hard, cutting the island in half — but in the long run that was even good for the fishing.
“They put a rock jetty (across the cut), and that holds a lot of fish,” Dugas said.
The key to the island is that the shallow shell bottoms make a perfect feeding ground for predatory fish.
“There’s always a lot of bait there,” Dugas said.
The guide likes an incoming tide, which usually pushes clean water straight into the island.
And live shrimp under corks are hard to beat.
“You can get them on plastic, but I’m going to be throwing live shrimp,” Dugas said. “That’s what they want, so why not give it to them.”
The only caveat with the island and the Iron Banks is connected to the Mississippi River, which can swamp the bay with fresh, muddy water.
“If the river’s up, none of that will be good,” he said.
Mouth of Oak River
By the time May rolls around, trout that have been wintering inside the marshes south of Delacroix have one thing in mind — heading to waters on the edge of Black Bay for the spawn.
And that means anglers can ambush them in pretty predictable places, with the area around the mouth of Oak River being one of the best.
“You can still catch trout on the inside, but most of them will be moving out,” said Capt. Jack Payne of Sweetwater Marina.
That’s a lot of water, but Payne said there are a few that historically shine — all connected to each other.
Lake Campo, Oak River Bay and Bay Lafourche can easily be worked in one day of fishing, and it’s almost guaranteed the day will end with ice boxes full of fish.
Payne did say the game has changed since the old days, when salinities were high throughout most of the year.
“With the (Caernarvon) freshwater diversion, salinities aren’t as high,” he said.
And this year the river was still a scant few feet below flood stage in New Orleans, so that could have impacts on the area because freshwater could push up into the edges of Delacroix.
That combination of freshwater heading south out of Caernarvon and river water moving out of the river could create a pincer — but that great thing about Payne’s choice is that it’s far enough down in the southeast portion of the system that salinities should hold.
So, assuming the fish are there, what’s the best way to catch them?
As the water warms, topwaters become a real possibility. Walk a Top Dog Junior over a shell reef where finger mullet are collecting, and the odds are good you’ll experience heart-stopping action.
But Payne said he would go a different way.
“Most of the time you catch them with a popping cork,” he said.
And, while trout will definitely fall for artificials, this guide and marina owner said live bait is almost too easy — and opens the door for a variety of bites.
“You can catch pretty much anything on live shrimp,” Payne said.
Capt. Mike Gallo with Angling Adventures of Louisiana said there are as many as five solid locations to target speckled trout in Lake Pontchartrain this month, but he settled on the train bridge (commonly referred to as the Trestles) near the south shore for his designated hotspot.
“The south shore has a huge point that comes out, and the three bridges that go across the east end of the lake go to that point,” said Gallo, who specified the first four fire breaks on the bridge moving north are prime to target in May. “So where the bridges terminate, there’s a big point right there.
“So the current really rolls around that point pretty good — all of that’s going to be productive.”
Gallo works the pilings on the train bridge using Deadly Dudley Bay Choveys in mojo mullet or Gulp plastics, usually with a 3/8-ounce jighead.
“Ninety-five percent of the time, I’m casting into the current behind one of the pilings and working my bait back with the current,” he said. “So if I’m looking west, the current is moving east and I cast upcurrent and work it back to me. That way it looks like all the other bait that’s being flushed along with the current.
“If you’ve got a hard current, we like to think fish hide from that and get in the eddies behind the pilings. As the current slacks up and they don’t have to fight it, they’ll move about and might be 50 yards off the bridge. We feel the stronger the current, the more they get up in those eddies.”
Depending on how hard the water is moving, Gallo might move down to a 5/16-ounce jig or bump up to a 1/2-ounce.
“If it’s really heavy, that’s where the drop-shot rig comes in,” he said. “You’ll always want to keep watching your line, but generally you’ll feel it; I don’t rely on sight.
“If you can see him move that line, you sure ought to feel it.”
Prime time for specks in May on Lake Pontchartrain will be before and after the full and new moon, Gallo said.
“The belief is they’re going to lay eggs around the full moon, so they’re going to eat three to five days before, and then spawn around the full or new moon,” he said. “After the spawn, they’re depleted, so they’ll eat again.”
Capt. Paul Titus marks Louisiana’s Top 10 trout-fishing hotspots
Some trout hotspots are obvious, but some are a little harder to locate. So Capt. Paul Titus, creator of Captain Paul’s Fishing Edge, stepped in to X-marks the spots outlined in the main feature.
Unless otherwise specified, all positions are stated as degrees, minutes and thousandths of minutes (DDD,MM.mmm) and were determined using WGS 84 Datum.
The locations are:
• The Trestles — 30°08.937’N ~89°52.788’W
• Stone Island — 29° 34.876’ N ~ 89° 32.089’ W
• Iron Banks — 29° 32.810’ N ~ 89° 31.850’ W
• Lake Campo — 29°40.367’ N ~89°39.181’ W
• Bay Lafourche — 29°37.580’ N ~ 89°41.259’W
• Oak River Bay — 29°38.225’ N ~ 89°39.546’ W
• Four Bayou Pass — 29°18.738’ N ~ 89°51.566’ W
• Rocks along Grand Isle State Park — 29°15.559’ N ~ 89°56.974’ W
• The south end of the Trestles (Lake Pontchartrain) — 30°08.937’ N ~89°52.788’ W
• Raccoon Point — 29°03.682’N ~ 90°57.557’W
• Old Big Lake jetty — 29°50.943’ N ~ 93°18.131’ W
Get even more fishing hotspots by ordering Captain Paul’s Fishing Edge, which contains hundreds of waypoints that can be uploaded right to your GPS.